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Auto blogTue, 25 Mar 2014 16:29:00 EST
Volkswagen's array of performance-oriented Golfs keeps getting bigger and bigger. What started with the GTI has since grown to include the diesel GTD, the hybrid GTE and the most powerful Golf R. But the additions haven't all come down to powertain. There's been cabrio versions of the GTI and Golf R as well, but before all is said and done, there will be one more bodystyle to join the lineup.
That, according to these latest spy shots, would be the Golf R Variant. For those unfamiliar, Variant is what Volkswagen calls the wagon version of the Golf (in some markets, anyway). It offers the Golf Variant with a variety of engines, but as the spy shots reveal, it is now working on bringing the Golf Variant and the Golf R together into one high-powered, long-roofed model.
The VW Golf R Variant would in all likelihood pack the same 2.0-liter turbo four as the hatchback, splitting 290 horsepower between all four wheels. Only in the wagon, it would offer that extra bit of utility. Of course there's no guarantee that Volkswagen would offer the Golf R Variant in the North American market, but considering that the Golf R hatchback will soon be joined in American showrooms by the Golf SpotWagen (as it's tipped to be called here) in place for the Jetta wagon, the possibility is definitely there.
Volkswagen's product portfolio may be as extensive these days as any other carmaker in the business. But if you still think of the original Beetle as synonymous with the brand, that's probably because a) you're old and b) the Beetle was the company's only product until the mid-50s.
Sixty years ago Wilhelm Karmann (founder of the eponymous coachbuilder) was in Paris for the auto salon and met up with Luigi Segre and his team from Carrozzeria Ghia who showed him what was essentially a "Beetle in a sports coat." A month later they showed it to Volkswagen chief Heinrich Nordhoff who, setting aside his conservative tastes, approved it for production. And so the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia was born, giving the German marque a second product line. It still used Beetle mechanicals and was built at the same Karmann factory in Onsabrück that was already assembling the Beetle Cabriolet.
It took another couple of years to put the design into production, but from 1955 to 1974, Volkswagen and Karmann built 362,601 coupes and 80,881 of the subsequent convertible that arrived in 1957. Today the Onsabrück factory is part of the VW Group, handling production of the Golf Cabriolet, XL1 and Porsche Boxster and Cayman, and with that original Karmann Ghia prototype as part of its factory collection.
The upcoming version of the Volkswagen Golf R is nearly ready for prime time, if this video of the car flying around the Nürburgring is any indication. The all-wheel-drive R seems to make quick, neat work of the corners we see here, and sounds pretty devilish in the process.
Expectations are that the new Golf R will run a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (what else?), tuned to produce even more than the current car's 256 horsepower. (Some sources have indicated outputs as high as 286 horsepower, with 280 pound-feet of torque. It's still not clear if Volkswagen will bring the six-speed dual-clutch transmission to the US-spec Golf R in this next go-round or if we'll stick to having only... eh... the stick.
In either case - watching the video below will only whet your appetite for the new, highest performing member of the Golf family.